Thoughts #1 — Many people celebrate New Year’s Eve differently. Some attend special parties, so hit the bars, some stay at home, some spend time with family and friends, some unfortunate enough have to work and others like myself attend a church service that’s referred to as Watch Night Service.
Now this is where the questions will begin for some, Church? Why do you go to church on New Years Eve? In fact I was asked that very question last week by a co-worker. I can’t express how I enjoyed the silence in my office when the question came around to my New Years Eve plans. Priceless.
Watch Night Service is not just something that my particular church does, but many majority Black Christian churches conduct Watch Night Services. The tradition dates back to 1862 in America.
In September of 1862 President Abraham Lincoln promised to sign what is know as the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. I would love to go into detail about this, but if you go back to the blog post published on June 19th called “We The People: My Celebration of Juneteenth” you would find some good references of the history and more explanation of the relationship of the importance of this document.
Watch Night – December 31, 1862 was a day of great anticipation for the American Black, because of a promise. Of course many were skeptic of the actuality of this promise, because Blacks have been lied to before and during the inception of this country, a betrayal that has been passed down through the generations. When the founding fathers of this country wrote the words of the Declaration of Independence, “We The People”, we (referring to Black people) were not included. In fact women were not included either. So you can begin to understand why many people were skeptical of this promise of freedom.
Weeks after the promise was made came opposition and fear. Fear that the slaves would kill their oppressors, so the White House said that the President wouldn’t sign the proclamation. Now comes the beginning of the making of Watch Night. So those who were in bondage worked prayed and watched the clock on this day waiting for the clock to strike midnight.
Although Lincoln was the President of the United States and the Confederacy had lost the Civil War to the Union, Mr. Lincoln really didn’t have much political influence of the south to enforce this “New Deal”. Once again America has defaulted on its promissory note, a check that was marked null and void.
Now students and enthusiast of history may notice the language I used ranged from a reference to FDR and King. The Emancipation Proclamation can be boring, but the connection of the examples of yesterday and promise of tomorrow are determined by the actions of today. So I apologize if I’m what my sister says, “Geeking Out” on you, but if you don’t know your past you’ll make the same mistakes in the future.
Now some of you will say that the slaves were free and Lincoln did sign the Emancipation Proclamation. That is correct he did sign it, but this is where the connection of Juneteenth comes into play. In order to conserve time I invite you to read the post on 06/19/08 this really provides more historical detail and explanation. It’s like the second half of the Emancipation Proclamation story.
*** PLEASE COME BACK TOMORROW FOR PART 3 ***